Changes made on overcrowded school bus after Knox County parent’s complaints

(Jessica Umphred)

KODAK (WATE) – A Knox County mom has been complaining for more than a year after hearing about her sons’ overcrowded school bus. She said it was a problem last year and then again this year. Her two boys have been standing in the middle of the aisle.

She said she made several calls to the school and transportation office but had no luck.The school system said Thursday changes are coming and they’re happening Friday afternoon.

“I think the school is pushing the issues to the side and they truly don’t want to be bothered,” said Jessica Umphred.

She got a photo from her son this week while on the bus. She said they don’t sit down but instead stand in the aisle. The bus is too full.

“I am scared for them. I am mad,” she said.

Jessica Umphred

Her two boys ride the bus to Carter Middle and Carter High School. She said she’s been complaining about the overcrowded bus since last year.

“As a mother, I am livid. It is a huge safety issue for me,” Umphred said.

Umphred said she filled out four incident reports last year and made three phone calls –  two to the transportation office and one to the school office. This year, the problem is still there. Umphred made another call to the school.

“And all I keep getting is they will look into it,” she said.

WATE 6 On Your Side made a few phone calls for Umphred to Knox County Schools. An email from a spokesperson said transportation had already spoken to the bus contractor and made plans to move 12 to 15 students to another bus beginning Friday afternoon.

“If they follow through, I am absolutely relieved,” said Umphred.

She had a sense of relief but also shock after hearing that many kids will be taken off the bus. She now hopes her yearlong battle for change is over.

“That would be phenomenal,” she said.

Knox County Schools also said this in their statement: “We continuously assess our schools’ transportation needs and routes and make appropriate adjustments when necessary… particularly the first few days of school.” A spokesperson said students’ safety is their top priority.


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